Eswatini African Growth Opportunity Act
African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA was signed into law on May 18, 2000. The Act offers incentives to African countries who continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
The former Kingdom of Swaziland, renamed Eswatini is reportedly not holding up its end of the bargain of the AGOA.
Eswatini capital, Mbabane, lies at the northern end of the Ezulwini Valley. The landlocked Kingdom of Eswatini is surrounded by South Africa but on the east shares a small border with Mozambique.
Eswatini is the smallest country in the African southern hemisphere and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of New Jersey. The threat of Eswatini being suspended from a US preferential trade agreement for poor progress in meeting democratic norms is threatening the means of support for an extensive number workers in the Kingdom where unemployment is 47%.
|Swaziland Protest seen outside the Savoy Hotel|
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law on May 18, 2000. The Act offers noticeable incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets. The Kingdom of Eswatini is reportedly not holding up its end of the bargain of the AGOA.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others wrote an open letter to King Mswati III of Eswatini, Africa's last absolute monarch, stating in part “a disregard for legal procedures and basic human rights” and warned of “lasting damage to your country’s standing with potential international investors and ....economic and political isolation,” if there was not change and dialogue.
US Ambassador to Eswatini Makila James stated that non-compliance with US recommendations would mean “on January 1, 2015, goods coming into the United States from Swaziland will be assessed duty because there will no longer be a trade preference to allow them duty-free entry." Unemployment in Swaziland is current around 47% and the median age is 21 due to a number of factors such as having the highest HIV rate in the world; an African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) suspension from the US will incredibly hurt an already fragile economy.
Qualification for AGOA preferences is based on a set of conditions contained in the AGOA legislation. In order to qualify and remain eligible for AGOA, each country must be working to improve its rule of law, human rights, and respect for core labor standards.
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